Friday, February 5, 2010
Cracked and dusty saddles and bridles are slung over the wooden partitions between the stalls where once working horses were stabled. There is honest wear on loops of iron and brass, and timbers dip and sway where horses rubbed heads and backs.
Outside is warm, and there is a refreshing breeze off the sea.
Sheep fatten on good grass in the pasture. There has been enough rain this summer to keep a healthy flush of green on these hills.
Looking south west, the hills and bays are pale light and shadow in the afternoon sun.
In one building a small boat rests. It is made from small branches and twisted vines, thin planks of wood, and canvas.
Her lines are fine and, though she may never go to sea again, she dreams of the lift of waves under her foot.
Her canvas, torn by use and knocks, is repaired with thick thread and a rough needle, "Stitched like the leg of a game keepers dog" comments Jeff.
Could those who sailed these waters in this canvas boat, ever have thought of the ships that would follow them?
We went to see Matanaka yesterday afternoon with Jeff and Stella, who had brought a lovely mug from Doug Fitch to me earlier in the week. It is a special thing to show people round our local area, their joy of experiencing it increases our own pleasure of living here. It washes the dust of familiarity from old eyes and gives them a new sparkle!
Matanaka at the northern end of Waikouaiti bay has what are probably the oldest wooden farm buildings in New Zealand. The buildings were brought here as a sort of kit set from Australia in the 1840s, and much of the roofing iron is still original. There was a whaling station here in the 1830s, and Johnny Jones, who came here from Sydney Australia, was instrumental in establishing a settlement. Whaling was on the decline at that time, and soon farming became important in this area.